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Chavez keeps up South American energy diplomacy

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday carried pledges of energy investment to Uruguay, the latest stop on his South American tour aimed at bolstering his regional influence.

Chavez, on the second stop of a four-nation swing, said his country may invest in an Uruguayan plant to regasify liquid natural gas from Venezuela. He made a similar proposal this week in Argentina.

The Venezuelan leader has been offering oil or natural gas to energy-hungry South American neighbors, in an effort to counter Washington's influence in the region.

"We're talking about a regasification plant here too, another in Argentina, where the three countries could converge," Chavez told reporters in Montevideo.

Uruguay, a largely agricultural-exporting country of 3.3 million people wedged between Argentina and Brazil, imports all of its gas and oil supplies, some of which Venezuela provides at cut-rate prices.

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